BARCS was created as a non-profit in 2005 to take over operations of the Baltimore City Shelter previously operated by the city’s Bureau of Animal Control. The move came as a result of public pressure to make changes to operations of the shelter in order to provide better care for animals. Although the non-profit status took effect in 2005, it took two more years to transition from a union-organized staff to our non-profit staff, and to build a strong public board of directors.
Yes, BARCS is a 501c3 organization. The budget for FY15 is $2,916,354. This funding consists of a grant from the City for $1,182,265 (41% of the budget), and the rest comes from public donations and fees from adoptions.
The Baltimore Animal Rescue and Care Shelter, Inc (BARCS) is a nonprofit shelter that accepts and cares for all animals in need and promotes responsible pet ownership for a more humane community in Baltimore City.
We work out of the same building as Animal Control. Animal Control is responsible for Health Code enforcement (complaints, compliance with laws, etc), and investigating animal neglect, cruelty and animal bite cases. BARCS is responsible for all shelter operations and programs, including: housing and care for shelter animals; lost and found; pet licenses; adoptions; volunteer; foster; rescue; and low-cost vaccination and microchip clinics. Once Animal Control brings an animal to the shelter, BARCS assumes responsibility for the care of that animal. BARCS also houses and cares for animals held for hearings and investigations.
Our first focus was changing the culture in order to make saving the lives of animals our priority.
We implemented new procedures, policies and protocols. We hired new staff members, and made physical improvements to the facility. The shelter was in need of major repairs and upgrades. We replaced broken cages, fixed lighting, painted walls, and repaired the floors, just to name a few. We created a volunteer program. We knew we were going to need support from the community in order to really be able to make a strong initial impact. We implemented a new adoption program, formed partnerships with rescue groups, began a foster program, created the “Franky Fund” to treat animals injured on arrival, created the "Medial Fund" to treat shelter animals, provide medications, vaccinations, and spay neuter, and much more. We immediately began programs that would help us to save lives and decrease the number of animals coming in.
One goal was to perform all spay and neuter surgeries on site for our adoption animals, and another was to hire a veterinarian. We hired the shelter’s first vet in 2007, and built a new surgery room in 2008.
Some quick numbers:
- There are roughly 300 animals living at BARCS daily.
- Approximately 500 additional animals are in foster care.
- BARCS receives an average of 33 new animals every day.
- Our total intake each year is over 12,000 animals.
- In 2013, BARCS received 4,754 dogs, 6,872 cats, and 775 other types of animals.
No. We have a long way to go until we are fully staffed. The staff members we do have work very hard, and each and every one plays the role of several workers in a typical shelter environment. With additional staff, we would be able to implement additional programs and improve current programs. While our employees are extremely dedicated to their work, the demand of caring for so many animals sometimes makes it feel like a crisis environment. To work at BARCS, you have to be willing to multitask, and to be on your toes at all times, working hard and fast to save lives. Each year we hope to raise enough money to add additional staff.
Absolutely! Volunteers are the backbone of our organization. In 2013, more than 400 volunteers logged over 38,000 hours on behalf of BARCS and the animals! We are grateful for our dedicated volunteers. They help in all areas of the shelter, including doing laundry, walking dogs, socializing cats, assisting with events, placing animals in new homes, surgery, fundraising, and much, much more! We need more volunteers so it you want to help, come volunteer!
No. BARCS gets mix breeds and purebreds of all kinds in the shelter throughout the year. It sometimes seem like there are only pit bull type dogs here because many other breeds get adopted more quickly; often the same day they arrive. Also, our partner rescue groups tend to take other breeds more regularly. Allowing rescues to select the animals they want for their programs helps us to save more lives by making room for pets that may be harder to adopt. Pit bull type dogs are really great dogs, but sadly they have been poorly portrayed by the media. We suggest to the public that if they want a specific size or breed of dog they should come to the shelter frequently so they get the “pick of the litter.” We adopt on a “first-come, first-served” basis so we can place animals as quickly as possible. This allows us faster turnover of space for the high volume of animals that come to our shelter on a daily basis.
This terminology can be very confusing to the public. Shelters use these words in different ways. To be clear and open, BARCS’ goal is to have no healthy or treatable animals euthanized in Baltimore, regardless of breed or age. We are the largest companion animal shelter in Maryland, so this is a lofty goal; however, each year we continue to see an increase in the number of lives we save. With continued community support and that of our partnering rescue organizations, we are confident we can reach our goal.
Since our inception in 2005, we increased the number of lives saved annually at the shelter from 240 (when the shelter was City run) to over 8,600 animals in 2014.